The contents of this book are the result of a three-years' study of the glaciers of Alaska, financed and directed by the National Geographic Society, through its Committee on Research. The investigations were made at a cost of about $17,000, representing the interest of upward of a quarter of a million members of the Society, whose continued support of the great object of the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge made the Alaskan undertaking possible.
Through the investigations, it is hoped, new light has been thrown upon the ice age in America, new information has been collected as to the processes of glaciation, and a new view has been gathered as to the effect of earthquakes and volcanic action upon glaciers. Alaska offered the best field in the world for these investigations, its glaciers being the largest in the world except those of the polar regions. There are thousands of them, and only a few of them even have been named.
The work of research into the extent and behavior of the Alaskan glaciers was undertaken in 1009, under a resolution of the Board of Managers appropriating $5,000 for beginning it. This was followed by like appropriations by the Board of Managers in 1910 and 1911, with some additional aid from time to time, bringing the total contribution of the Society to the work up to $17,000.
The Research Committee decided, at the outset, to devote the money expended by the Society to the study of certain of the tidewater glaciers, notably those in and about Yakutat Bay and Prince William Sound, and with the phenomena observed there this book deals.
It is peculiarly fitting that the National Geographic Society should have undertaken a scientific survey of the Alaskan glaciers, because it has been very closely identified with the exploration work that has opened up that wonderful territory. Its Magazine is one of the great storehouses of data on original glacial explorations in Alaska.
In the National Geographic Magazine appeared one of the first maps showing most of the Alaskan glaciers.1 This journal published the description of C, W. Hayes and Frederick Schwatka's explorations north of the St. Elias Range and in the Copper River valley, with important contributions on glaciers and glaciation.9 It published H. F. Reid's descriptions of the Muir Glacier and Glacier Bay.8 It published I. C. Russell's descriptions of Mt. St. Elias and the Malaspina and Yakutat Bay glaciers,4 first explored by the two Russell expeditions which were partly financed by the National Geographic Society. In its volumes are Henry Gannett's descriptions of some of the glaciers of Prince William Sound and other parts of AlaskaB as well as Miss E. R. Scidmore's description of the glaciers of the Stikine River,8 and her review of the discovery of Glacier
1 Nat. Geog. Mag., Vol. XV, 1904, map facing p. 288. 1 Ibid., Vol. IV, 1892, pp. 117-182.
• Ibid., Vol. IV, 1892, pp. 19-84.
• Ibid., Vol. HI, 1891, pp. 58-800.
"Ibid., Vol, X 1899, pp. 507-H/512; Vol. XII, 1901, pp. 180-196.
• Ibid., Vol. X, 1899, pp. 6-9; Vol. VH, 1898, pp. 140-148; Vol. V, 1898, pp. 178-179.